CULTIVATING A GLOBAL CLASSROOM
Spring 2012

T
his past year, Sara Krakauer has been working to connect her fifth and sixth grade social studies classroom in Tyngsboro, MA with classrooms around the world. In September, Krakauer was selected as a fellow for the Teachers for Global Classrooms (TGC) Program, which provides professional development opportunities for middle and high school teachers from the United States to participate in a program aimed at globalizing teaching and learning in their classrooms. Funded by the U.S. Department of State, this year’s class of fellows consisted of 68 teachers from 32 states across the country.


In the fall, the program began with an online course about global education. It focused on what global education is and how educators can better prepare students for the 21st century. In February, Krakauer then attended a pre-symposium in Washington, D.C. to prepare for her international travel.

The 68 fellows each had a two-week international fellowship to one of six countries: Ghana, Morocco, Ukraine, Brazil, Indonesia, and India. In April, Krakauer headed to Ukraine. Since her fellow ship in Ukraine aligned with Innovation Academy’s spring break, she also took the opportunity to travel to Turkey.

“I spent a lot of time visiting schools and learning about the culture and education system in Ukraine,” says Krakauer. “I also led workshops for Ukrainian students and teachers.”

Krakauer blogged about her experiences throughout her time abroad on her website, www.innovationonearth.comEvery day, she posted photos and videos for students. In her daily entries, she described the food she ate, the places she visited, the teachers and students who she met, and the schools she visited. “The blog was a requirement for the program, and I had no idea how much I’d get into it. I loved doing it!” she says. The blog inspired her students back at IACS. They had the opportunity to post comments, ask questions, and offer Krakauer ideas for what she should see and do while abroad. “I was even able to have students in Ukraine ask and answer questions on video for students back at home,” she says.

Being able to share her experiences was extremely important to Krakauer. “In addition to being creative and a great way to process the events of each day, it made the experience so much more meaningful to be able to share what I was learning in real time with the IACS community. The students were commenting back and asking all sorts of follow up questions, so it was very interactive and fun for me to feel connected to home.”
The program emphasized to Krakauer the huge benefits of connections between classrooms around  the world. “It’s all too easy for us to work in our little bubbles and forget that there is a huge community of educators around the world that have similar goals. It is imperative that we make connections with these people so that we can work together towards a different priority in the classroom,” she says.

An avid traveler, Krakauer has been to 33 countries around the world. She works to incorporate these experiences into her teaching. “We live in a changing world where people are more connected than ever before. Even if you don’t acknowledge it, we are connected through the clothes we wear, the food we eat, and the people with whom we interact every day, both in person and online. Schools need to change to meet the needs of our modern world.”

In October, Krakauer will attend a post-symposium in Washington, D.C. to debrief the experiences and make plans to bring the work back home. In the fall, the fellows will also work on capstone projects to create global education resource guides for fellow educators.